My parents had a good friend who was a great storyteller. She was tall, dramatic and could actually pull off wearing a cape. Whenever I asked her if something she said was really true, she would tell me, “Honey – never let the facts get in the way of a good story.”
As we have been sharing our concerns about the impact of proposed cuts on early childhood intervention and community supports, we have run into a number of people who follow her philosophy. They refuse to let the facts get in the way of their good stories. Here are some facts that I hope you will consider:
- Early intervention is not welfare buying Cadillacs for people who won’t work – it is buying physical therapy for children who can’t walk.
- Early intervention positively impacts children with developmental delays and disabilities – they are more likely to gain the strength, skills and increased abilities that will allow them to enter school without needing more expensive special education services.
- Early intervention positively impacts all children of school age and the taxpayers who fund their education – studies consistently show that physical, occupational and speech therapy and the full complement of intervention strategies are more effective, less expensive and result in better long-term physical and educational results than services provided once the child is school aged.
Community supports, such as respite for parents of children with disabilities, have consistently been shown to be a lower cost solution than institutionalized care. Children with disabilities are up to 10 times more likely to be abused. Siblings of children with disabilities are at twice the risk for committing suicide. Divorce, neglect, job absenteeism are all more prevalent for adults who are the caregiver of a child with a disability. If the legislature enacts the proposed cuts to community supports, our children will need government services from CPS, foster care or, as happened for three Texas children last year, they may be murdered by their parent who is overwhelmed by the child’s needs. Their parents are more likely to lose their jobs and their medical insurance – again shifting the high costs of unemployment and health care to the government.
I know we must live within our means, but the next time you hear someone telling you that services for people with disabilities are too expensive – I hope you will arm yourself with the facts. Even if you ignore the moral implications, the cost of cuts is much higher than the money saved. Let’s let the facts get in the way of their stories.